Pagan Passions

Pagan Passions

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Pagan Passions, by Gordon Randall Garrett and Laurence Mark Janifer This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: Pagan Passions Author: Gordon Randall Garrett Laurence Mark Janifer Illustrator: Robert Stanley Release Date: September 26, 2007 [EBook #22767] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK PAGAN PASSIONS *** Produced by Greg Weeks, Geoffrey Kidd, Stephen Blundell and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net PAGAN PASSIONS Adult Science Fiction, with the supernatural making complete sense. The Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greece and Rome had returned to Earth—with all their awesome powers intact, and Earth was transformed almost overnight. War on any scale was outlawed, along with boom-and-bust economic cycles, and prudery—no change was more startling than the face of New York, where, for instance, the Empire State Building became the Tower of Zeus! In this totally altered world, William Forrester was an acolyte of Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, and therefore a teacher, in this case of a totally altered history—and Maya Wilson, girl student, evidently had a totally altered way of grading in mind—but what else would a worshipper of Venus, Goddess of Love, have in mind? This was just the first of the many Trials of Forrester, every bit as mighty and perilous as the Labors of Hercules. In love with Gerda Symes, like him a devotee of Athena, like him a frequenter of the great Temple of Pallas Athena (formerly known as the 42nd Street Library)—dedicated, in short, to the pleasures of the mind—Forrester was under the soft, compelling pressure of soft, compelling devotees of Venus, Bacchus and the like, and in need of all the strength that he and his Goddess, the beautiful and intellectual Athena, could muster to save him from the endless temptations of this new Earth. And into this sensuous strife strode Temple Myrmidons—religious cops sworn to obey orders without question or hesitation—with a pickup order for William Forrester. Where he was taken, what happened to him, the truly fantastic discoveries he made about himself and the Gods and Goddesses—here are the ingredients that make up this science fiction novel of suspense, intrigue, mystery and danger. For science fiction it is, with the supernatural making complete sense, and fun too, despite the Sword of Damocles hanging by a thread over Forrester's head! by Randall Garrett and Larry M. Harris P a g a n P a s s i o n s A GALAXY Selected Novel For BEACON BOOKS P a g a n P a s s i o n s By Randall Garrett and Larry M. Harris Published by Galaxy Publishing Corp. New York 14, New York ALL CHARACTERS IN THIS WORK ARE WHOLLY FICTITIOUS AND ANY RESEMBLANCE TO PERSONS LIVING OR DEAD IS PURELY COINCIDENTAL Copyright 1959 by Galaxy Publishing Corp. Galaxy Novels are sturdy, inexpensive editions of choice works of imaginative suspense, both original and reprint, selected by the editors of Galaxy Magazine for Beacon Books. THIS IS BEACON BOOK NO. 263 Cover by Robert Stanley Printed in the U.S.A. by THE GUINN COMPANY INC. New York 14, N. Y. Transcriber's Note Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed. Minor spelling and typographical errors have been corrected without note. A table of contents has been provided below: FRONT COVER BACK COVER CHAPTER ONE CHAPTER TWO CHAPTER THREE CHAPTER FOUR CHAPTER FIVE CHAPTER SIX CHAPTER SEVEN CHAPTER EIGHT CHAPTER NINE CHAPTER TEN CHAPTER ELEVEN CHAPTER TWELVE CHAPTER ONE [5] T he girl came toward him across the silent room. She was young. She was beautiful. Her red hair curled like a flame round her eager, heart-shaped face. Her arms reached for him. Her hands touched him. Her eyes were alive with the light of pure love. I am yours, the eyes kept saying. Do with me as you will. Forrester watched the eyes with a kind of fascination. Now the girl's mouth opened, the lips parted slightly, and her husky voice murmured softly: "Take me. Take me." Forrester blinked and stepped back. "My God," he said. "This is ridiculous." The girl pressed herself against him. The sensation was, Forrester thought with a kind of awe, undeniably pleasant. He tried to remember the girl's name, and couldn't. She wriggled slightly and her arms went up around him. Her hands clasped at the back of his neck and her mouth moved, close to his ear. "Please," she whispered. "I want you...." Forrester felt his head swimming. He opened his mouth but nothing whatever came out. He shut his mouth and tried to think what to do with his hands. They were hanging foolishly at his sides. The girl came even closer, something Forrester would have thought impossible. Time stopped. Forrester swam in a pink haze of sensations. Only one small corner of his brain refused to lose itself in the magnificence of the moment. In that corner, Forrester felt feverishly uncomfortable. He tried again to remember the girl's name, and failed again. Of course, there was really no reason why he should have known the name. It was, after all, only the first day of class. "Please," he said valiantly. "Miss—" He stopped. [6] "I'm Maya Wilson," the girl said in his ear. "I'm in your class, Mr. Forrester. Introductory World History." She bit his ear gently. Forrester jumped. None of the textbooks of propriety he had ever seen seemed to cover the situation he found himself in. What did one do when assaulted (pleasantly, to be sure, but assault was assault) by a lovely girl who happened to be one of your freshman students? She had called him Mr. Forrester. That was right and proper, even if it was a little silly. But what should he call her? Miss Wilson? That didn't sound right at all. But, for other reasons, Maya sounded even worse. The girl said: "Please," and added to the force of the word with another little wriggle against Forrester. It solved his problems. There was now only one thing to do, and he did it. He broke away, found himself on the other side of his desk, looking across at an eager, wet-lipped freshman student. "Well," he said. There was a lone little bead of sweat trickling down his forehead, across his frontal ridge and down one cheek. He ignored it bravely, trying to think what to do next. "Well," he repeated at last, in what he hoped was a gentle and fatherly tone. "Well, well, well, well, well." It didn't seem to have any effect. Perhaps, he thought, an attempt to put things back on the teacherstudent level might have better results. "You wanted me to see you?" he said in a grave, scholarly tone. Then, gulping briefly, he amended it in a voice that had suddenly grown an octave: "You wanted to see me? I mean, you—" "Oh," Maya Wilson said. "Oh, my goodness, yes, Mr. Forrester!" She made a sudden sensuous motion that looked to Forrester as if she had suddenly abolished bones. But it wasn't unpleasant. Far from it. Quite the contrary. Forrester licked his lips, which were suddenly very dry. "Well," he said. "What about, Miss—uh—Miss Wilson?" "Please call me Maya, Mr. Forrester. And I'll call you—" There was a second of hesitation. "Mr. Forrester," Maya said plaintively, "what is your first name?" "First name?" Forrester tried to think of his first name. "You want to know my first name?" "Well," Maya said, "I want to call you something. Because after all—" She looked as if she were going to leap over the desk. "You may call me," Forrester said, grasping at his sanity, "Mr. Forrester." Maya sidled around the desk quietly. "Mr. Forrester," she said, reaching for him, "I wanted to talk to you about the Introductory World History course." Forrester shivered as if someone had thrown cold water on his rising aspirations. "Oh," he said. "That's right," Maya whispered. Her mouth was close to his ear again. Other parts of her were close to other parts of him once more. Forrester found it [7] difficult to concentrate. "I've got to pass the course, Mr. Forrester," Maya whispered. "I've just got to." Somehow, Forrester retained just enough control of his faculties to remember the standard answer to protestations like that one. "Well, I'm sure you will," he said in what he hoped was a calm, hearty, hopeful voice. He was reasonably sure it wasn't any of those, and even surer that it wasn't all three. "You seem like a—like a fairly intelligent young lady," he finished lamely. "Oh, no," she said. "I'm sure I won't be able to remember all those old-fashioned dates and things. Never. Never." Suddenly she pressed herself wildly against him, throwing him slightly off balance. Locked together, the couple reeled against the desk. Forrester felt it digging into the small of his back. "I'll do anything to pass the course, Mr. Forrester!" she vowed. "Anything!" The insistent pressure of the desk top robbed the moment of some of its natural splendor. Forrester disengaged himself gently and slid a little out of the way. "Now, now," he said, moving rapidly across the room toward a blank wall. "This sort of thing isn't usually done, Maya. I mean, Miss Wilson. I mean—" "But—" "People just don't do such things," Forrester said sternly. He thought of escaping through the door, but the picture that arose immediately in his mind dissuaded him. He saw Maya pursuing him passionately through the halls while admiring students and faculty stared after them. "Anyhow," he added as an afterthought, "not at the beginning of the semester." "Oh," Maya said. She was advancing on him slowly. "You mean, I ought to see if I can pass the course on my own first, and then—" "Not at all," Forrester cut in. Maya sniffed sadly. "Oh, you just don't understand," she said. "You're an Athenian, aren't you?" "Athenan," Forrester said automatically. It was a correction he found himself called upon to make ten or twelve times a week. "An Athenian is a resident of Athens, while an Athenan is a worshipper of the Goddess Athena. We—" "I understand," Maya said. "I suppose it's like us. We don't like to be called Aphrodisiacs, you know. We prefer Venerans." She was leaning across the desk. Forrester, though he supposed some people might be fussy about it, could see no objection whatever to the term Aphrodisiacs. A wild thought dealing with Spheres of Influence strayed into his mind, and he suppressed it firmly. The girl was a Veneran. A worshipper of Venus, Goddess of Love. Her choice of religion, he thought, was unusually appropriate. And as for his.... [9] [8] CHAPTER TWO [10] I t was hard to believe that, only an hour or so before, he had been peaceful and calm, entirely occupied with his duties in the great Temple of Pallas Athena. His mind gave a sudden, panic-stricken leap and he was back there again, standing at the rear of the vast room and focusing all of his strained attention on it. The glowing embers in the golden incense tripods were dying now, but the heavy clouds of frankincense, still tingled with the sweet aroma of balsam and clove, hung heavily in the quiet air over the main altar. In the flickering illumination of the gas sconces around the walls, the figures on the great tapestries seemed to move with a subtle life of their own. Even though the great brazen gong had sounded for the last time twenty minutes before, marking the end of the service, there were still a few worshippers in the pews, seated with heads bowed in prayer to the Goddess. Forrester considered them carefully: average-looking people, a sprinkling of youngsters, and in the far corner a girl who looked just a little like ... Forrester peered more closely. It wasn't just a slight resemblance; the girl really seemed to be Gerda Symes. Her long blonde hair shone in the dimness. Forrester couldn't see her very clearly, but his imagination was working overtime. Her magnificently curved figure, her wonderful face, her fiery personality were as much a part of his dreams as the bed he slept on. If not for her brother ... Forrester sighed and forced himself to return his attention to his duties. His hands remained clasped reverently at his breast. Whatever battle went on in his mind, the remaining few people in the great room would see nothing but what was fitting. At any rate, he told himself, he made rather an imposing sight in his robes, and, with a stirring of vanity which he prayed Athena to chasten, he was rather proud of it. He was a fairly tall man, just a shade under six feet, but his slight paunch made him seem shorter than he was. His face was round and smooth and pleasant, and that made him look younger than he was: twenty-one instead of twentyseven. As befitted an acolyte of the Goddess of Wisdom, his dark, curly hair was cut rather long. When he bowed to a departing worshipper, lowering his head in graceful acknowledgment of their deferential nods, he felt that he made a striking and commanding picture. Though, of course, the worshippers weren't doing him any honor. That bow was not for him, but directed toward the Owl, the symbol of the Goddess embroidered on the breast of the white tunic. As an acolyte, after all, he rated just barely above a layman; he had no powers whatever. Athena knew that, naturally. But somehow it was a little difficult to get it through his own doubtless too-thick skull. He'd often dreamed of power. Being a priest or a priestess, for instance—now that meant something. At least people paid attention to you if you were a member of the hierarchy, favored of the Gods. But, [11] Forrester knew, there was no chance of that any more. Either you were picked before you were twenty-one, or you weren't picked at all, and that was all there was to it. In spite of his looks, Forrester was six years past the limit. And so he'd become an acolyte. Sometimes he wondered how much of that had been an honest desire to serve Athena, and how much a sop to his worldly vanity. Certainly a college history instructor had enough to do, without adding the unpaid religious services of an acolyte to his work. But these were thoughts unworthy of his position. They reminded him of his own childhood, when he had dreamed of becoming one of the Lesser Gods, or even Zeus himself! Zeus had provided the best answer to those dreams, Forrester knew. "Now I am a man," Zeus had said, "and I put away childish things." Well, Forrester considered, it behooved him to put away childish things, too. A mere vanity, a mere love of spectacle, was unworthy of the Goddess he served. And his costume and bearing certainly hadn't got him very far with Gerda. He tore his eyes away from her again, and sighed. Before he could bring his mind back to Athena, there was an interruption. Another white-clad acolyte moved out of the shadows to his right and came softly toward him. "Forrester?" he whispered. Forrester turned, recognizing young Bates, a chinless boy of perhaps twentytwo, with the wide, innocent eyes of the born fanatic. But it didn't become a servant of Athena to think ill of her other servants, Forrester reminded himself. Brushing the possibility of a rude reply from his mind, Forrester said simply: "Yes? What is it?" "There's a couple of Temple Myrmidons to see you outside," Bates whispered. "I'll take over your post." Forrester responded with no more than a simple nod, as if the occurrence were one that happened every day. But it was not only the thought of leaving Gerda that moved him. As he turned and strode to the small door that led to the side room off the main auditorium, he was thinking furiously under his calm exterior. Temple Myrmidons! What could they want with him? As an acolyte, he was at least immune to arrest by the civil police, and even the Temple Myrmidons had no right to take him into custody without a warrant from the Pontifex himself. But such a warrant was a serious affair. What had he done wrong? He tried to think of some cause for an arrest. Blasphemy? Sacrilege? But he found nothing except his interior thoughts. And those, he told himself with a blaze of anger fierce enough to surprise him, were nobody's business but his own and Athena's. Authorities either less personal or more temporal had no business dealing with thoughts. Beyond those, there wasn't a thing. No irreverence toward any of the Gods, in his private life, his religious functions or his teaching position, at least as far as he could recall. The Gods knew that unorthodoxy in an Introductory History course, for instance, was not only unwise but damned difficult. [12] [13]